Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Here’s what you can do to stay healthy as the climate changes

Lots of people are talking about climate change and the things it can do to our health. But did you know that you can prepare for it — and stop it from ruining your summer?

Image credit // National Resource Defense Council
We love summer. Thanks to our summer safe tips, we’re prepared for the worst things and enjoy the best things, like playing outside, eating snow cones and building sandcastles.

But last year, the National Resource Defense Council shared a list of things they don’t like about summer, like heat waves, poor air quality and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, climate change makes all of those things worse. And that’s not healthy.

There is good news, though: We can protect ourselves.

If you live in a hot place, you can stay safe by doing a few things before and during a really hot day. Make sure you drink plenty of water, find somewhere with air conditioning and take cool showers to lower your body heat. Here are more suggestions from our heat wave fact sheet.

Photo credit // CDC / James Gathany
Hate being bit by mosquitoes? You can protect yourself by using bug spray, getting rid of water from that has collected in flower points or trash cans around your neighborhood and wearing clothing that fully covers your arms, legs and feet. Here are more things you can do to stay even safer from mosquito bites.

We’ve got tips to protect you no matter where you live. You can stay safe from hurricanes or floods, keep your food and water safe during an emergency, and protect yourself when you’re in a big crowd of people. Here’s a full page of facts you can use to stay safe and healthy in emergencies.

Now go have as much fun as you can this summer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weddings: a celebration of love, joy and public health

Yes, you read that right! And if you’re thinking we’re trying to nerd-ify your wedding, think again. Don’t believe us? Check out our Pinterest board on public health wedding ideas. We’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, let’s talk. Why would you think about public health at a wedding?
For starters, this summer is going to be full of millennials tying the knot. They are living in a world altered by climate change. They’ll raise their kids with the emerging public health threats in mind. So it makes sense they have health in mind when planning their future.

But public health weddings aren’t just for the young folks. Our tips are good for brides and grooms of

all ages — and for all budgets.

Try out some summer fruits for snacks
during  your reception!
Photo credit //
Incorporating public health into your wedding can be as simple as including a vegetarian meal option. Small decisions can help any wedding support public health. Recycled wedding dresses and locally grown flowers are just some of the ways you can create a health-conscious wedding.

You can also incorporate public health preparedness into your wedding. If you’re handing out keepsakes to guests, consider things that will help them be ready for a disaster, like flashlights, whistles and paper fans. What wedding guest wouldn’t want a mini first-aid kit with the happy couple’s name embossed on it? The next time your guests are safely treating a scrape, they’ll have you to thank.

These ideas won’t just help you pull off that hipster vibe. They’ll also introduce your guests to new foods, new activities and new ways of thinking. Go ahead. Be “that hipster couple.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summer Safe: Getting ready for Lyme disease

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. But the summer is also when there are the most ticks. Ticks are tiny insects that bite people and animals for their blood. Many can carry diseases. One of these diseases is Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause serious symptoms, but with a few simple steps it’s easy to stay safe.
Image credit // CDC;
James Gathany

Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and Midwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but cases have been reported in almost every state. The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid tick bites. Ticks like to live in moist, long grass, so keep your yard cut short. If you’re in the woods, stay in the center of trails and avoid bushy areas.

Wearing light-colored clothing when going outside can make ticks more visible. Be sure to use EPA-approved insect repellent with at least 20-30 percent DEET. After you’re outdoors, make sure and do a tick check and shower.

If you do get bit, you should remove the tick quickly. Find a pair of tweezers and grab the tick firmly as close to the skin as possible. Don’t grab the body, as it could tear off and leave some of the tick inside your skin. Begin pulling straight out. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. Once it’s out, wash the bite with plenty of soap and water. Tell your doctor about it. If you can, save the tick and have it tested for Lyme disease.  If a piece breaks off and stays inside you, have it removed as soon as possible.

Removing a tick
Lyme disease causes a lot of different symptoms. It sometimes starts with a red bull’s eye rash around the bite. Then, it can cause fatigue, joint swelling and flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, Lyme disease can cause joint and nerve problems. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics when caught early. But the longer it takes to find out you have it, the harder it is to treat.

Just because there are ticks outside doesn’t mean you should stay indoors. A few simple steps can keep you safe. Get outside and enjoy the summer!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Star-spangled preparedness

Summer. Charcoal. Fireworks. Freedom. 
You know what that means: It’s almost the Fourth of July! It looks like it’s going to be a hot one this year in many parts of the country.  Before you head out to celebrate, take a minute to think about how to do it safely.

Photo credit:
Know where you’re going and how long the event will last. Many events don’t allow coolers inside the grounds, so think about where you’re going to get food and water. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Also, be sure to bring insect repellents.  Hot summer nights are a mosquito’s delight.  Make sure to protect yourself from becoming their source of food.

Fourth of July celebrations can get hot, and you might spend a lot of time in the sun. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. When you think you’ve had enough, keep going. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you quickly. If you do plan to drink alcohol, have a plan to get home safely. As in, hand over the keys.

If you’ve got kids, make sure you keep them close if you’re going to be in a crowd. Pick a spot to meet up as a family in case you are separated. Know where to go in case there is an emergency. If you or anyone you’re with starts to feel sick or dizzy, ask for help. Find an event official or head to the first-aid area. You know where it is, since you found it as soon as you arrived, right?

Photo courtesy:
Remember, everyone loves to celebrate freedom. Crowds can get big and overwhelming. Having a plan and knowing how to stay calm are the best ways to be safe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a spot away from the crowds and take a break.

And lastly, be careful with fireworks. Yes, they’re really cool. Like these! But they’re also dangerous. They literally run on gunpowder. The stuff that makes things go bang. Remember that before you light the fuse. Have a source of water nearby. Make sure anyone nearby knows when you’re lighting them, and keep people back at a safe distance.

Alright, you’re about ready to celebrate! Check out our mass event fact sheet for a few extra safety tips before you head out. Grab a bottle of water and a hat, and throw a few more hot dogs on the grill. We’ll be over soon (what, didn’t we tell you you’re hosting?)! Happy Fourth of July! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Today's post is by Hannah d'Entremont, a public relations and political science students at West Virginia University.  She's also one of APHA's summer interns!

Do you remember how bad Hurricane Katrina was? What about Hurricane Sandy? Both hurricanes — which hit New Orleans and the northeast U.S., respectively — caused a lot of damage. They also caused many preventable injuries and deaths.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic began on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricanes can be dangerous and life-threatening. So it’s important to understand ways to stay safe.

Hurricanes are rated on a scale of one through five, with one being the weakest and five being the strongest. Sandy made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, and Katrina was a Category 3 when it hit Louisiana. But all hurricanes are dangerous, no matter their category. Strong winds and debris can cause damage to people, homes and communities.
Super-storm Sandy making landfall in the United States.
Photo credit: Rob Gutro,
Goddard Space Flight Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year’s hurricane season should include six to 11 named storms, three to six of which should become hurricanes. With that in mind, it makes sense to be prepared. Learn about your community’s hurricane warning system, evacuation routes and nearby hurricane shelters. (You should also know these things if you’re vacationing in an area at-risk for hurricanes.) Make a plan with your family. Write down emergency phone numbers and identify a meeting place in case you have to evacuate in a hurry and all family members are not together. Never ignore evacuation orders.

You should also have supplies such as food, water, medicine, safety items, personal care products and an emergency kit for your car packed and ready to go. Include paper maps in your kit in case electricity and cellphones aren’t working. Fill up your gas tank in advance if a storm is predicted to head your way.

For more hurricane tips, check out our Get Ready fact sheet on hurricanes.